I’ve been thinking about Amy’s essay on the numunious experience. It has stayed with me for many reasons, one of them is that I particularly like the line, “truth holds opposites in tension.”

I’ve also been thinking about it because when I was a new mom to Avery, and I was reading everything I could get my hands on about Down syndrome, I came across several books that refered to children with DS as angels. It seemed like much too big a term to put on a little baby, and I promised myself that I would never call Avery an angel. He was a human being, of my body and of this world, and calling him an angel seemed to separate him from us.

When I read Amy’s essay, I had to look up the meaning of numinous (which is why I included the link to Wikipedia, in case others were unfamiliar with the term, too.) It’s an attempt to describe the experience of the sublime; a term for what is “wholly other.”

This is the reason I’m thinking about all this: I’ve had four numinous experiences (though I didn’t know they had a name, until now. I just called them my woo-woo episodes) and they all surround Avery. The first was when I was pregnant with him, even before I knew he would be Avery, even before I knew I was carrying twins. The other three happened when I was in the hospital just after giving birth.

I don’t know what to make of these things. I swore I would never mention angels and Avery in the same breath, but still, I can’t say that my only numinous experiences being tied to one person is a coincidence. And Amy, in her essay, is writing about her experience with the numinous, which is tied to her son who has Down syndrome.

I don’t have any answers. These things are just on my mind today, as I begin writing “Get it Down: 31 for 21.” Thirty more posts to go!



11 thoughts on “Angels

  1. Gaijinmama, I did read the book, and incredibly, I’d forgotten about that part of it. I say “incredibly” because it was a really big part of Beck’s experience. There was an interesting discussion about that book at, too.

    Katrina, I love how you put it. Maybe NOT an angel, but a child doing angelic work. Thank you for bringing this thought to me…a new thing to consider!

  2. I agree about “angel” too. My daughter is a little girl, not a supernatural being. She is more like me than “other.”

    But I believe she is also a messenger from the Divine. She was sent to teach me (to teach ALL of us) that he loves me (us), and that I (we) am (are) OK, just like he made me (us).

    So while she is not an angel, per se, sometimes she does an angel’s job.

  3. Ah, yes. The “woo woo” stories. They are chronicled in my book, yes. And ususally, writing about something helps me sort it out. But in this case, I’m still thinking about it! So surely, there will be more to come.

  4. “This transcendent instant can bring either bliss or terror.” No wonder my Hannah is both my angel and my devil!! Thanks for the link – a beautiful essay.

  5. I posted about your blog today and about 31 for 21, which I’ll be doing, but I do not have the technology skills yet to do “buttons.” I combined the post with breast cancer awareness, also this month, and a link to Team Whymommy. I love both of your blogs.

  6. I agree with being hesitant to use the word “angel” and my son’s name in the same breath, although I did use it to describe the nurses and doctors who helped bring him into the world. Births make us say the darnedest things.

    Angels are a bridge to the Other World, so I quite understand why proud parents choose such a descriptive word, although please stop me if I am guilty of treating my son with silk gloves.

    I want my son to know that he and his sister are the same, and that there is a “little bit of the Old Nick” in the best of us.

  7. Thanks, Jennifer. I keep hoping that NPR will choose my essay to be aired. I’m wondering if maybe I should increase my donation! I agree, whenever someone says Joe is an angel I respond, “no, he is a human being.” And yet, he has changed our lives is such wonderous ways. At the end of the day, we just call him “Joe.”

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